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Saturday, March 19, 2011


Impressive rendezvous for the arts.

The programme of the Absa KKNK (April 2–9) offers a wide variety of experiences and plays a leading role in the development of new work for the stage. The theatre offering at the festival is extended to include more than 30 productions this year, of which 17 will be performed at the festival for the first time. These debut works span a broad spectrum of themes and will speak to diverse audiences.

It is especially works from the pens of Afrikaans dramatists which make the offering exciting this year. Amongst others, Reza de Wet’s 25 years in the South African theatre industry is celebrated in Die See – a production in which Reza herself will appear on-stage for the first time in two decades.

Marlene van Niekerk’s debut work for the stage, Die kortstondige raklewe van Anastasia W (a co-production with Aardklop), which speaks about the vulnerability of the brutalised person, promises to grip audiences at the heart. Furthermore, Ingrid Winterbach’s Spyt will be performed as a relationship drama with dark humour, presented by a superlative cast.

This year Amanda Strydom is featured in a brand new musical theatre production, Binnekamer, which has been specially created for her by the Herzog prize-winner Deon Opperman and music virtuoso Janine Neethling.

There are well-known voices in new roles. With Bullets over Bishop Lavis, Christo Davids for the first time takes on the role of dramatist in a witty debut, which introduces the audience to a community where crime, drugs and gangs become a reality for the characters. Another debut that offers probing social commentary is My naam/my name is Ellen Pakkies. It relates the gripping story of a Cape Town woman (played by Vinette Ebrahim) who kills her tik-addicted teenager son (Christo Davids) in desperation. This relevant theme is written and produced by Lizz Meiring who, aside from her fame on stage, can also be considered a formidable dramatist.

Wilna Snyman’s career in the arts is celebrated in a special way with the production Klaasvakie, which is written by Flemish writer Laurens de Vos with translation and production by Marthinus Basson. Antoinette Kellerman and Nicole Holm are included in the cast of this heartrending piece, which speaks of the decay of the aged who while away their time by revisiting their past.

This year the international festival component is enhanced by the Dutch theatre group, De Appel (creators of Ararat in 2009), who return to the festival with Messe in Henne – a highlight amongst the site-specific pieces. It looks at the complex relationships between a farmer, his wife and the mysterious miller in town.

Location-specific productions in outstanding outdoor venues in and around Oudtshoorn are becoming a bigger and more characteristic component of the Absa KKNK, not only as far as the theatre productions are concerned, but also in all other genres. This year the Kanna prize-winning team of Betésda returns with a new work, Lot, by Nicola Hanekom. This piece stylistically corresponds with the previous work and addresses the corporality of man.

Agterplaas is yet another outdoor production by the celebrated Charles Fourie. Festival goers may not miss this experience. In this piece, well-known actors portray a poor Afrikaner home and they become Die Antwoord en Jack Parow met Angus Buchan opgeklits.

Vicky Davis is the producer of the enthralling Hel op Hemel-en-Aarde, which is also staged outdoors and literally places the festival goer on the spoor of a serial killer. Here, talented high school learners are afforded the opportunity to perform alongside well-known actors such as Elma Postma and Ivan Botha. The text is written by author Francois Bloemhof, with music by the popular Schalk Joubert.

The Absa KKNK continues to invest in the actors and audiences of the future. Besides Hel op Hemel-en-Aarde, young actors are given the opportunity to perform in a professional environment in Hennie van Greunen’s musical Gly, which, as the name suggests, is based on the Glee concept. Van Greunen proves his experience in the industry with WEES (co-production with Aardklop 2011), which is based on the famous text by Dennis Kelly.

Still more outdoor experiences under the stars are those of David Kramer performing his Karoo songs of the last three decades together with the Sonskynsusters, Hannes Coetzee and riel dancers. Also, be on the lookout for the first Absa KKNK performances by the ground-breaking dance company from Okiep, Namjive: Mense van Mense and Padonbekend, also debut works in which dance and storytelling, with a Namaqualand flavour will be performed under the masterful guidance of Dawn Langdown and Alfred Hinckel.

With reference to the Oudtshoorn Oraloor component, festival goers can look forward to the first Karoo Krioel this year – a definite highlight for enthusiasts of wordcraft and more intimate musical productions. Patrons will be transported by small buses to different astounding places outside of Oudtshoorn where artists such as Joanie Combrink, Antoinette Pienaar, Derek Gripper, Eldene Jones, Diana Ferrus, the Zamanani Brothers and many more will be responsible for an exceptional experience. Storytelling, music and a full breakfast are the apt manners in which to conclude this festival tour to the Kuierkombuis.

There is more than enough comedy on the programme: from the popular kykNET programme Proesstraat; Frank Opperman’s Rooi Kaart; Amper with Ben Kruger; Hennie Jacobs and Christel van den Bergh; Leon Kruger’s Paloekas! Dagboek van ’n Single Girl with Lulu Botha in the cast; Bloemers & Roemers 2; Groet die Grotoupa to Shimmy Isaacs’ Howzit my Bra! – get ready to eat your heart out!

On a tragic-comical note, there is Celeste Slabber-Loriston’s Gif. Margit Meyer-Rodenbeck leaves Dowwe Dolla home this year to stage the drama Bye ma, Jaypee in which Gavin van den Bergh plays the role of Jaypee Malherbe who writes letters to his late mother on her birthday in the newspaper every year.

Yet another extension at this year’s festival is a new venue called Iets Anders, in which festival goers can look forward to physical and visual theatre such as Hoedens by Pieter Bosch Botha, Drome van jou, the dramas London Road and …miskien, as well as Gaëtan Schmid’s tour de force, Rumpsteak, which presents a very funny view on behind-the-scenes-activities in a busy French restaurant. This platform offers our existing connoisseurs as well as new crossover audiences something quite exceptional. It promises to be one of the jewels of this year’s festival.

A musical to look forward to is Karingkels – hier’s ons lied with amongst others Faiziel Davids, Giempie Vaardien, last year’s Slurpie winner, Moenier Adams, and Junaid Booysen. The production highlights the Cape Malay choirs in a comical fashion. Dorette Potgieter, Riku Latti, Laurinda Hofmeyr and Albert Frost promise great family entertainment in their musical Janneman in die diereryk.

One of the highlights on the contemporary music programme is Afri-Spaans, which will debut at the festival. The smouldering Columbian singer Marta Gomez can be experienced alongside, amongst others, Steve Hofmeyr and Anna Davel in a quite unusual mood. In turn, Karen Zoid, Nick Turner and the Africa music legend, Louis Mhlanga, share the stage in Malaika/ My engel.

Connoisseur classical music lovers can look forward to performances such as that of the world-renowned pianist, Ben Schoeman, who will celebrate Franz Liszt’s 200th birthday with a varied programme. The Tygerberg Children’s Choir, which enjoys world fame at present, will be here with a new programme and the Tuks Symphony Orchestra will captivate the public with a programme which has been made possible by the Rupert Music Foundation.

Helena Hugo is this year’s festival artist. With her collection of portraits she makes one aware of faces which, depending on one’s own social status, one normally does not even notice. In her portraits, Hugo in particular focuses on the relationship between work and worker.

Besides the festival productions, festival goers can look forward to a Rivierbuurt programme with music stages for various tastes this year. With a day ticket festival goers gain access to almost all the music stages at a very reasonable price. The stages include the Huisgenoot Musiekplaas Day Stage, Die Burger stage, the Kuiertuin and the MK rock sessions. This year there will be a new stage where artists like Vicky Sampson, Alistair Izobell, Karin Kortjé and Luqmaan Adams will take the audience on a nostalgic musical journey with sounds from Motown, R&B, soul, funk, disco, contemporary duets to modern DJs.

“Indeed, the enchanting Klein Karoo once more becomes an exceptional and jovial rendezvous for the arts at this year’s festival,” says Brett Pyper, Chief Executive Officer of the Absa KKNK. “Whether festival goers find a home in the theatres and galleries or under the heavens with the Swartberg Mountains in the background or in the many ’kuier’ spots in Oudtshoorn or amidst the enthusiasm in the streets, we are ready to extend a warm welcome to every visitor.

“Through our involvement in the Absa KKNK, we demonstrate what we mean when we say our intention at Absa is to be more than a bank; we want to be a financial partner. At Absa, we want to be a partner in the prosperity of our country, and the Absa KKNK is a shining example of how business and arts partnerships are able to promote arts and culture. The festival has grown into one of the biggest tourism attractions and one of the biggest job creators in the Klein Karoo, and we are proud of our involvement in the Absa KKNK,” says Angie Burton, Group Executive of Marketing at Absa.

The complete festival programme is available online at with bookings at Computicket, online at or at any Shoprite/Checkers store.